FW de Klerk's speech marks 30 years

FW de Klerk has been discharged from the hospital.

Former president FW de Klerk.

Mike Hutchings /Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - Thirty years ago, on this day, former president FW de Klerk made a speech in parliament, announcing sweeping reforms, including the release of political prisoners like Nelson Mandela.

This marked the beginning of the long-awaited transition from apartheid to democracy.

The decision to release Mandela paved the way for the birth of a new South Africa.

READ: FW de Klerk made a speech 30 years ago that ended apartheid: why he did it

In his opening address to parliament in 1990, De Klerk unbanned the African National Congress, Pan-Africanist Congress and South African Communist Party.

He also announced a moratorium on the death penalty and an end to the state of emergency.

Nine days later Mandela was freed from prison after 27 years behind bars.